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FDA Launches “FDA Basics” Online to Enhance Public Understanding of the Agency

Why are there still food recalls? What are the side effects of a drug I’m taking?  How do I report a pet food complaint?  Is FDA going to ban tobacco?

Answers to these questions and more can be found at “FDA Basics,” a Web-based resource aimed at helping the public better understand what the agency does.

FDA Basics includes

The resource will also include online sessions conducted by senior FDA officials who will answer questions on various topics. Each of these sessions will be announced on FDA’s Web site.

FDA Basics, launched on Jan. 12, 2010, is the first phase of the agency’s Transparency Initiative, which was launched with the strong support of the Department of Health and Human Services in response to the Obama Administration’s commitment to an unprecedented level of openness in government.

The Transparency Initiative is designed to explain agency operations, how it makes decisions, and the drug approval process.

“This initiative will make information about FDA more user-friendly and accessible to the public,” says Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “It fosters a better understanding about what we do.”

“The launch of FDA Basics is our first step towards making FDA a more transparent agency,” says Joshua Sharfstein, M.D., principal deputy commissioner of food and drugs.

In one of her first acts after assuming the office in the spring of 2009, Hamburg announced the formation of an internal task force to develop recommendations for enhancing the transparency of FDA’s operations and decision-making processes.

In recent months, the task force asked for the public's input on improving agency transparency through a public docket, an online blog, and two public meetings. Hundreds of comments were received from various audiences, including regulated industry, consumers, patients, and health care professionals.

As a result of comments from the public, the task force decided to develop its recommendations in three phases.

  1. FDA Basics represents the result of the first phase.
  2. In phase two, the task force intends to make recommendations to the commissioner about how to make information about FDA activities more transparent, useful, and understandable to the public while protecting confidential information.
  3. In the third phase, the task force will address FDA’s transparency to regulated industries.

This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Date Posted: January 12, 2010

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